Home and renters insurance policies typically come with general liability coverage, which protects the homeowner and their family in case of lawsuits regarding bodily injury and property damage. What a lot of homeowners don’t know is that this general liability coverage often extends to pets of the family.
Furry friends can seem perfect, but even they make mistakes or can even be provoked. Even the sweetest, most docile animals can be involved in accidents. Unfortunately, animal bites—especially dog bites—can be nasty and even deadly. It’s important for all pet owners to be prepared for the worst possibility no matter what.
General liability covers bodily injury and property damage to third parties, and pets are no exception. This insurance will not cover damage to the home or your personal belongings caused by the pet. The same applies for damage to a rented apartment. If your dog scratches up the front door while you’re gone, the damage won’t be covered, and the landlord will likely look to take it out of your deposit instead.
General liability will provide compensation if your pet injures someone else or causes damage to their property. For example, say your child’s friend comes over. They’re outside playing in the backyard while you watch from the patio, and your dog is laying in the grass. The children start chasing each other, and the friend trips over your dog. Startled, the dog instinctively whips around and bites what stepped on it—in this case, your child’s friend. You immediately separate the child and dog and call emergency services and the child’s parents. The child is taken away in an ambulance and receives immediate medical treatment and surgery. Later, the child’s parents demand that you pay for their child’s medical bills.
The average cost of a dog bite is about $35,000 on its own. This may not account for accidents that result in disability or even death. Without general liability insurance, these bills, along with a possible lawsuit, could cost thousands or even millions of dollars.
Limits and Exclusions
Unfortunately, general liability doesn’t cover everything. Coverage for pets is limited in comparison to coverage for humans. There are also certain exclusions and limitations based on species and breeds of pets.
Animals that are considered exotic pets likely won’t be covered. This includes reptiles monkeys, some bird breeds and more. Most homeowners want their dog covered under liability insurance, but many insurance providers have limitations on dog breeds. Breeds that are considered “dangerous” are often excluded. This generally includes pit bulls and related breeds, German shepherds and Rottweilers.
How Much Does Liability Cover for a Pet?
General liability insurance policies typically go by millions, beginning at $1 million. Not all of this may be used to cover a pet-related accident, however. The amount of coverage you will receive for your pet depends on the species and breed, your policy and the insurance provider.
You can always purchase extra insurance in order to cover your pets, as well. Umbrella liability insurance, for example, is an additional rider that covers all liability types, including general liability. For example, say your pet attacks someone and the total claim and medical bills owed add up to $50,000. Your policy only offers $10,000 in coverage, leaving you with the remaining $40,000. Umbrella liability insurance will step in to take care of the remaining $40,000.
Be sure to speak with your insurance agent about your and your pets’ liability needs. Every home and animal is different, but all deserve the right amount of protection when it matters most.
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